Saturday, August 13, 2022

Showing Off Arrowhead to Debi's Grandkids

My nephew Jonathan with his wife Jessica and their three children, Ellie, Oliver, and Zeke, are staying with us three nights as they visit to attend Beth's funeral. 

Today they walked with me to the church to move a couple of tables out of the sanctuary. 

The tables had been moved into the sanctuary yesterday to hold Beth's urn, some flowers, two of Beth's paintings, and her portrait for her funeral. 

As it turned out someone had beat me to it. I am so thankful to be a part of Trinity United Methodist Church. Our pastor, Nanci Hicks, did much not only to comfort us during our grief, and to preside at the funeral, but also arranged much of the mechanics of being ready for the event such as those tables, and ushers, and printed programs, and sound equipment, and live-streaming and recording of the service. She had the help of our wonderful choir director Kam Malone, our administrative assistant Lauri Pack, and Trinity stalwarts Sam Evans, Chuck Evans, and Thom Holt. And Debra Malone's musical talents and dedication added so much to the service. I could never fully express the love and thanks I feel for these people, and all the folks at Trinity who came to support us or who have called, and prayed, and sent cards to ease our burden.

When we walked back from the church we detoured over to the levee ...

Then we were joined by Jonathan's brother Matthew and his daughter Lillian (yes, another Lillian) as well as Debi, Gregg, Andrew, and Sheila in three cars for a caravan to Arrowhead so the kids could visit our animals. The kids had a great time visiting with Lucky the Gopher Tortoise...

Beauregard to baby Alligator...

Corny the Corn Snake

and Ringo the King Snake.

Smoke on the Mountain, Homecoming

After an emotional day celebrating the life and grieving the death of my sister, Beth, we drove to Tucker for opening night of "Smoke On the Mountain, Homecoming" by Main Street Theater. Lillian who say two songs beautifully at Beth's service yesterday morning had a nice role as Denise in the play last night. It was a community production, and like most community theater had some rough edges, but was very enjoyable. The cast and the audience left happy. (There were no rough edges to our daughter's performance, of course. And I am totally unbiassed.)

Jordan met us there and we took a selfie at intermission...

 ...then Lillian joined us for another selfie after the curtain call...

I was, emotionally and physically exhausted, so the late drive back would have been a chore with no traffic. As it turned out there was a LONG traffic jam on I-285, and then construction on I-75 near Kennesaw. By the time we got to Cartersville I was miserable with sleepiness and even that close to home decided a cup of coffee -- even bad service station coffee -- was required to get me the last few miles home safely. We pulled into our driveway around 12:30 this morning. 

Then tonight we got a text from Lil with this picture. David and Cindy Naglee attended the play tonight and stuck around to congratulate Lillian after curtain call. David was our pastor -- the first time I ever had a pastor younger than myself! --- back in the eighties. Later he was District Superintendent of the Rome District of the United Methodist Church. David was a wonderful pastor, and an outstanding preacher, and a creative administrator as our minister. He also is the only pastor I know of who plays the saw.

Thursday, August 11, 2022

Beth's Memorial Service

(Aunt) Beth visiting her niece Brannon Shaw for the first time.
L-R: Beth Shaw, 
Brannon Shaw, Carol Shaw Johnston, Sheila Matthews Shaw.

Beth Shaw Roszel's Celebration of Life will be tomorrow morning, August 12, 2022, at 11 a.m. at Trinity United Methodist Church. A visitation time is scheduled from 10 -10:45 a.m. at the church. For my friends and relatives who can not be in Rome for Beth's service tomorrow, I hope you can tune in online. Here's the YouTube link.

Tuesday, August 09, 2022

A Don Gets Raided

The politicians who defend the loathsome man who tried to overthrow our republic during 2020 and 2021 and who lives in absurd ostentation in the gaudy "club" pictured below are in for some distasteful meals, in my opinion. 

FBI Director Christopher Wray (appointed by Trump) or Merritt Garland (famously cautious) and a federal judge (uniformly careful), I'll betcha, approved a raid on the monstrosity below.  And I'll betcha they had excellent convincing and timely information that evidence of a crime exists there. As the Lincoln Project folks have written, there is no judge in this country who would OK such a raid unless there is extremely strong evidence to support that decision.

Donald Trump, who has frequently behaved more like a Mafia don than a businessman OR a president, cannot be expected to voluntarily and openly cooperate with authorities when he feels threatened. He often demonstrates reckless disregard for precedence, the truth, morality, or law. And he is documented to have previously destroyed documents. No wonder it took a raid rather than a simple request or even a subpoena.


Monday, August 08, 2022

51 Years!

Sheila climbing the front steps of Tallahassee Heights United Methodist Church as my fiancé.
She and I would leave as wife and husband.

Fifty-one years ago today I married my best friend and the love of my life. I am an incredibly lucky man. Our anniversary last year was clouded by sadness at the passing of my Mother, and again this year we are in mourning for a dear family member, my sister Beth who died on August 5. But we know to count our blessings, and there is no greater blessing in my life than Sheila. 

Sheila and I have had an unusual and very emotional anniversary. We are trying to find and scan pictures of Beth. It still just seems unreal that she could be gone. Every picture I find brings, almost simultaneously, sweet memories and a sudden emptiness in the pit of the stomach.

Here is one of those pictures...

Beth on the day we brought Brannon home, with our sister Carol,
Carol's daughter Larisa, and my Grandmother Lillian.

I posted a link on Facebook to my post on the Limb a year ago that shows our "cut-out" posed here and there around the house. As a result we have had anniversary greetings from lots and lots of our old and new friends. 

That "cut-out" now stands near the end of our upstairs hall where is startles me regularly.

Sunday, August 07, 2022

Very Successful First Term

Zawahiri is dead

The PACT Act passed

Gas prices are falling

528,000 new jobs last month (nearly 10 million since January 2021)

Most important climate protection in history

Deficit reduction

And much more.

I am so proud to have worked for the election of Joe Biden in 2020. 

And for Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff. 

And while much of the impatient public wrote him off and the shallow and short-sighted American media reported on the events of the last two years with so little context, our President and our Democratic senators kept plugging along-- working, negotiating, compromising, cooperating.

Think about it, my friends. This president was elected on a platform to, first, restore the soul of our republic after we had endured four years of lies, corruption, and chaos in the presidency; and second, to work for progressive goals in a cooperative and, if possible, bipartisan and compromising tradition of American legislation. He was sworn in less than a month after an attempted coup d'tat and faced an opposition that mostly refused to stand-up to the leader of that attempted overthrow of the Republic despite some of their own admissions of the treachery. He faced the challenge of an economy crippled by pandemic with a tiny margin of majority in the House of Representatives and an exact tie in the Senate. Absolutely NO legislation could be passed without either unanimous support from a very broad range of Democrats in the Senate or else support from at least some Republicans. 

Despite all of that, he is now, without doubt, one of the most successful first-term presidents of all time. While the whole world is encumbered by terrible inflation, labor shortages, a regression toward authoritarianism, and expensive gas as a result of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the US is relatively much better. Gas prices are coming down. We are at almost FULL employment. He has managed to pass a slew of his legislative packages despite sometimes despicable stonewalling by Republicans. He has had to make major compromises, of course. It is shameful that Republicans blocked some very popular measures like the regulation of prices for life-saving insulin, for example. But still MAJOR victories for the American people. 

If you, like me, want to see more, then let's give this president a few more Democratic senators and members of Congress. If President Biden had even just a couple more Democratic Senators many lives would be saved and much good could be done. 

The current make-up of the US House
The current make-up of the US Senate

No president with such a small margin in Congress has accomplished more. Think of what could be accomplished with a strong Democratic majority.

Saturday, August 06, 2022

The Perfect Seven


My Mother used to say seven is the Biblical number of spiritual perfection and completion. Here is, I suppose, the last photo of the (ahem) "Perfect Seven" of her children. We lost my youngest sister, Beth, yesterday. We certainly feel incomplete now. 

This was taken by our great niece Hannah Yoest outside Trinity United Methodist Church in Rome, Georgia, one year ago today, after Ruth Baird Shaw's funeral service. L-R: Sharlyn Beth Shaw (Roszel), Charles Terrell Shaw, Deborah Ruth Shaw (Lewis), Janice Diane Shaw (Crouse), Lynda Joan Shaw (Turrentine), David Baird Shaw, Mary Carol Shaw (Johnston)

I'm so thankful to all the folks who contributed to my Mother's beautiful memorial service. I am tempted to name names but I'm sure I would leave someone out. I will thank three non-family folks again who were so loving and helpful: our wonderful pastor, Nanci Hicks; our friend Beverly Harris who filled in beautifully as pianist on very short notice, and Chip Rogers who made sure the service was live-streamed and recorded so those who could not attend could participate online.

 I watched the video again yesterday. Here is the link to that service.

Thursday, August 04, 2022

Happy Birthday, Brannon!

 We Facetimed with Brannon late tonight and were thrilled that Ruthie and Clemmie were still up and VERY ready to talk.  Ruthie was anxious to let us know that she is "two and a half!" These screenshots will give a flavor of the conversation. 

Smile! The "4" was the only candle Brannon could find around the house.

Clemmie reminded me that she want me to tell the Ghost With One Black Eye when we come to California... except she has decided that a variation would be good; she suggests "The Ghost With FOUR Black Eyes". 

Both girls had a very extended snack time before bed because they wanted to blow bubbles in their milk...
...which they found hilarious and infinitely entertaining.

When it was time to hand up we had a long session of kiss throwing..
Oh, notice the lemon? Ruthie had a great time allowing me to "lick" the lemon. My grimaces at the sour "taste" was, of course, very humorous.

Mike's Cannas

Several years ago when Mike Bock visited us he brought a canna plant as a gift for us. We have kept it in a pot by the back steps and greatly enjoyed it. He visited again last weekend and again brought a canna, this time a "Tropicana" variety. Wow! The. leaves are as pretty as the flowers. Here is a close-up off the green canna leaf and another of the new "Tropicana" canna.

There are no blooms on either yet.

Mike brought several other gifts; such a guest to have! I collect political items so Mike keeps an eye out, and since the last visit has found me a nicely framed FDR portrait, a hand-carved wooden donkey, and several buttons. And that's not to mention the Esther Price chocolates. Yes, we'll welcome Mike anytime! [Just for the record: Guests at the Shaw house are NOT required to bring tribute -- we treasure Mike's visits just for the time with a friend of more than half a century.]

Me & Franklin

Democratic donkey

Three flashers and three celluloid buttons for my collection.

Monday, August 01, 2022

Old Leaves: Ringing the Bell for Mother

Today marks a whole year without you, Mother. It still hurts. I have wanted to call you from my morning walks out in California to tell you about your great grandchildren. I cut very few daffodils last February and March. How I would have loved to bring you a fistful of them! I can see your face lighting up at the sight. Or just be able to stroke your hair and talk to you about Daddy and your brothers and sisters and your Mama and all the things we talked about those last eleven days when you couldn't always remember what we'd just said, but did love to look at those pictures and name those names, even writing the names --- Charles Shaw, Lavay, Grady, Janice, Joan, Beth, David, Sheila, Gilbert --- carefully under each picture.

Here's what I wrote, sleep-deprived and sad, that Sunday morning


I had not slept since 1:30 a.m., but still I slipped on my shoes, grabbed my walking stick and my hat, and at a little after seven, walked toward the church to ring the bell, as I had done many, many times since last March. 

Volunteers have been ringing the church bell in that fashion since the pandemic started and Sheila and I have taken a turn morning and evening one day each week for well over a year now. Often we'd leave the church parking lot at 7:20 on a Sunday evening and drive directly to Mother's house. (I always put out her garbage and recycle bins on Sunday evenings for pick-up on Monday mornings.) When we told her about the bell she would say, "I wish I could hear it ringing."

Yesterday morning at Floyd Hospital

So since Mother was so close by -- right next door at Floyd Hospital -- last night, I had told her and sister Carol as I left them at a little after eight, that if they listened from room 4520 at Floyd this morning, they'd hear Trinity's bell pealing seven and fourteen at 7:14 a.m. as a reminder of the scripture:

2 Chronicles 7:14 if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, pray, seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.

As I walked up Avenue A toward Trinity United Methodist Church a while ago I thought of the saints of that church who once called the houses I passed and others in our neighborhood home: Dot and Lewis Walden, Lewis's parents before him, and his brother Billy who died so young in the Winecoff fire; Miss Annie Beth Terrell who loved my family and hosted my fellow teenagers for MYF retreats at her cabin under Mount Alto and sent me goodie packages when I went off to college; the Parkers and Kings and Reeces and McCrarys and Ables and Latimers; Miss Lottie Duncan who was Daddy's first secretary. 

A Mourning Dove accompanied my thoughts with its sad song as i walked. I am not so arrogant as to pretend I know how things work when lungs no longer suck at the air and hearts no longer pump nourishment to our braincells. But this morning I imagined that cloud of witnesses welcoming another to their midst. And I imagined my father, and my mother's father and mother, there with big smiles and open arms. And I imagined them listening together as I pulled the knotted rope and rang that old bell that has sounded from that belfry for 135 years. I imagine Mother saying, "Terry said he'd ring it this morning."

Sarah Ruth Baird Shaw died peacefully in the wee hours of this Sunday morning. 

I sang for Mother dozens of times the last week and a half. This is one of her favorites:
Great is Thy faithfulness, O God my Father
There is no shadow of turning with Thee
Thou changest not, Thy compassions, they fail not
As Thou hast been Thou forever wilt be
Great is Thy faithfulness, great is Thy faithfulness
Morning by morning new mercies I see
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided
Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me
Summer and winter, and springtime and harvest
Sun, moon and stars in their courses above
Join with all nature in manifold witness
To Thy great faithfulness, mercy and love
Great is Thy faithfulness, great is Thy faithfulness
Morning by morning new mercies I see
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided
Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me

Here is a post I wrote for Mother in 2013 on the occasion of her nintieth birthday:

Ruth Baird Shaw

We will celebrate my mother's birthday ten days early on February 9th -- this coming Saturday -- with a party at Trinity Methodist Church here in Rome. 2-4 p.m. Y'all come. 

(Edited February 10, 2013: We had a great day celebrating our mother yesterday. Each of the seven siblings took part in the program. Our brother-in-law Chuck Roszel added some heartfelt extemporaneous remarks at the end as well. I sang two songs, "The Love of God" during my remarks, and "Amazing Grace" with the congregation joining in, at the end.  Here are (approximately), my remarks.

My Mother is an amazing woman. 

I’ve always known that. 

Ruth Shaw is a very active woman -- creative, determined, dedicated, caring, independent, and sharp as a tack -- who will turn ninety-years-young on February 19. 

And I remember her thirtieth birthday, when I would have been almost six. I thought that sounded sort of old then. 

I remember walking hand in hand with her at about that time down Main Street of little Mackville KY from the Methodist parsonage to the elementary school for my first day of first grade. I remember the comfort of that hand.

And I remember the utter shame of having to walk the long blocks from Fourth Ward Elementary in Griffin GA toward our little parsonage on South Ninth Street carrying a note from Mrs. Giles about my third grade misbehavior. I would have to present that evidence of my black heart to my wonderful mother. I no longer remember the particular sin, but I do remember that I did not want to disappoint Ruth Shaw. 

My mother read to us. I can see the Bible story book in my mind’s eye. One of these days I want to find that book and buy one to have at my house. I loved those stories. Even more I loved the one who read them to us. 

I remember Mother walking me and Carol and Debbie down College Street to Griffin’s Hawkes Public Library to load up on Hardy Boy books, and Jim Kjelgaard, and boyhood biographies of Lee and Washington, and such, AND stopping by the bakery nearby for gingerbread men on the way home.

I remember the pride and awe of hearing her singing beautiful harmony with my Daddy --  “The Love of God” --  at a Sunday night service at Midway Methodist. So in honor of that but without the harmony -- unless some of you want to provide it and feel free! -- I’d like to sing that old song.

  1. The love of God is greater far
  1. Than tongue or pen can ever tell;
  1. It goes beyond the highest star,
  1. And reaches to the lowest hell;
  1. The guilty pair, bowed down with care,
  1. God gave His Son to win;
  1. His erring child He reconciled,
  1. And pardoned from his sin.
  • Refrain:
  • Oh, love of God, how rich and pure! How measureless and strong!

  • It shall forevermore endure—The saints’ and angels’ song.
  1. Could we with ink the ocean fill,
  1. And were the skies of parchment made,
  1. Were every stalk on earth a quill,
  1. And every man a scribe by trade;
  1. To write the love of God above
  1. Would drain the ocean dry;
  1. Nor could the scroll contain the whole,
  1. Though stretched from sky to sky.

We thought we’d arrived in heaven -- at least I did -- in 1958 when we moved from the modest little parsonage in Griffin to the brick mansion-in-my-eyes at Ellijay. On the day we moved Daddy pulled the car onto the shoulder along Highway 5 as we neared Ellijay to soak in an amazing sight. The white clouds in an azure sky had nestled onto and around the mountains, allowing those magnificent  summits to peek out above them.  

I have many good memories from Ellijay, but a terrifying one occured about 1960. David a toddler decided to spread the ends of a bobby pin and poke them into an electrical outlet. Luckily the circuit he completed was broken when the pin burned in two and dropped to the wooden floor where it burned a permanent record of the event. Mother handed the convulsing David to me to hold while she drove us down Dalton Street toward the doctor’s office. Her calm calmed us then and often since, even when she was the one suffering and we should have been the ones soothing.

Like every Southern family at the time, our extended family members were not unanimously accepting of the tumult of the day. I remember with pride my bashful Mother defending Martin Luther King in some family discussions -- well before it was the popular thing to do.

I could go on and on. 

I love my mother not just for herself, but for those who loved her enough to guide her toward the person she has become. Those include my grandmother Ieula Ann Dick Baird, who as a widow raised her eleventh child to revere the father, Wilson Baird, she lost when she was only nine, to love the God who had guided him, and to love Ieula’s own grandfather, Bogan Mask, who had shown kindness to mistreated slaves and bravely stood for his beliefs as a licensed Methodist exhorter and took in Ieula, her siblings and her widowed, pregnant mother when Charles Ervin Dick died at 35. 

I love her for the the quiet bravery, dedication to duty, and love of God exhibited by her brothers and sisters, and the love of a young husband and his band of precocious, mischievous brothers, gregarious Daddy Shaw, and determined Mama Shaw. 

I love her for my inspiring siblings, whom she reined in when needed, but to whom she gave the reins when they were ready.

And of course there are the “lemon fluff” frozen desserts she made in ice trays, snow-cream during our Kentucky days, the cinnamon yeast rolls on Christmas mornings, and the traditional little bottles of Welch’s Grape Juice in our stockings, banana pudding on other special occasions, the cornbread dressing with the big Butterball turkey at Thanksgiving, date-nut cakes on my birthdays... my mouth is watering.

Which brings us to some verse I wrote for Mama many years ago now. 

Dandelions in a Milk Carton

Thank you, Mama, 
For nursing me and diapering me,
for a dry set of sheets when I wet another,
for the Bible story book and Uncle Remus,
for all five sisters and my little brother,
And all the good eating stuff
Like biscuits from wooden bowls
and datenut cakes and lemon fluff,
and Russian tea and yeast rolls 
For Jesus-loves-the-little-children and Deep-and-Wide,
For walking to school that first day by my side
And for your loving smile when I came in a run
with dandelions in a milk carton for all you’ve done.

remember with pride how as a widow in her early sixties my mother followed her heart, her calling, and her conscience, despite her bashful nature, to take over my father’s ministry, complete seminary, become an outstanding preacher, and successfully minister to several churches and many hurting people in the years since. Many times this was while she heroically faced one of the most debilitating and painful diseases known to mankind (Trigeminal neuralgia) and its resulting brain surgeries and medications -- and later facial surgery and cancer.

Everyone has always assumed Mother to be younger than her actual age as long as I can remember, and she still seems much younger than what the calendar indicates. I have always believed my Mama the prettiest, smartest, and kindest one around -- and, of course, also the best cook. Still do.

Happy birthday, Mama

Sunday, July 31, 2022

Hackberry Hell, Revisited

 After our Hackberry adventure of the wee hours of yesterday morning we welcomed our dear friend Mike Bock for a two day visit. Maloney's Tree Service had cleared the driveway, leaving the a huge pile of limbs and branches at the back of the house and the standing half of the tree at the front. The plan was to take down the rest of the tree on Monday and haul off everything then. 

Mike had been in Chattanooga for a great niece's wedding and arrived late so we stayed up late visiting. So when the unmistakable sound of a tree falling intruded on our consciousness, we were wide awake and went running out the front door. And there was clear sky that should be obstructed by tree and there was obstructed road that should be clear. The second half of our big ol' Hackberry was lying across Avenue A all tangled up with wires, yet somehow the the lights were still on up and down the street.

Soon the first responders were there to block off the street...

... and then the Georgia Power crew was hard at work straightening out the wires...
...and then the city's public works folks began to clear the street.

In the light of morning the road is clear...

...but definitely not the driveway.
We'll walk to church today.
This side of our old house will have a lot more sun.
By the time we walked back from church...

...Maloney's was hard a work again clearing the driveway.

So we snapped a quick selfie.

That's the tree folks pulling away in the distance, but they'll be back tomorrow to haul away the last of the Hackberry.

Saturday, July 30, 2022

I am Thankful for FaceTime!

Talking with Suzie

Sharing my yogurt & mango with Ruthie.

Playing "Sleeping Human" with Clemmie.

Social Media and the online world in general have some pretty important drawbacks. There is no doubt in my mind that a treacherous charlatan like Donald John Trump could not have been able to claim the presidency against the will of the American people without the tremendous boost he got from social media -- both the above board nonsense that he and his minions produced in the open and the secret multiplication of lies and filth produced undercover by his comrades in Russian basements.

BUT -- as a storyteller online telling has kept things going during a pandemic.

BUT -- as executor of my Mother's estate Zoom meetings have allowed seven siblings to fairly cooperate to fulfill Mother's wishes even though we are separated by many miles and assorted health issues.

AND -- through those heath issues my seven siblings have been able to support one another at a distance.

AND as a grandfather separated from his three wonderful granddaughters by an entire continent, the miracles of online visitation via FaceTime ain't the same as a real visit, but it sure beats nothing! 

Yesterday my babies called me from Vista, California connecting with my high-resolution brand-new MacBook at my kitchen table. There were no actual hugs, but it was just about the next best thing as we participated in about thirty minutes of tele-silliness. 

When we visit there Clementine likes to invent games/improvisation which must be recreated repeatedly with only occasional variation. On our last trip - last December - she came up with the "Sleeping Human" game. Clementine is the unquestioned Director and must occasionally stop the action to explain how the scene is to proceed.The cast includes:

Sleeping Human - me (GrandShaw)

Alarm Clock - Sheila (Granny)

Cat - Clemmie

Puppy - Ruthie

On the phone last night one new character was added: At nine months of age Suzie has been cast as Kitten.

Sleeping Human yawns, stretches, and goes to sleep, snoring softly. Cat and puppy find secluded spots to curl up and sleep.

(A few beats)

The Alarm Clock sounds.

Sleeping Human rises stretches, yawns, opens imaginary pet food and calls cat and puppy and kitten to breakfast. Cat and puppy crawl out of hiding and greedily devour imaginary food. 

The day passes very quickly and Sleeping Human is expected to sleep again. Repeat.

One month from today I will see these boogers in person!

Here are some screen shots from our FaceTime yesterday.

Suzie wants to look behind the cell phone.

Clem likes to get...

...up close... 

...and personal.

Suzie and I shared our food through FaceTime and our imaginations.

As Puppy, Ruth crawls away to sleep.

Ruthie with her Mommy

At one point Clemmie and Ruth decided to take me (the cell phone) right into their "circus tent".

Ruth & Clemmie love their little sister.

"What is this thing? Who is that guy?"


Waiting for Alarm Clock Grannie... wake the Sleeping Human.

All four of my Carlin girls.